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9.4 oz. (266 g) for a US M10,
7.6 oz. (243 g) for a US W7.5
41.5 mm in heel, 33.5 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)
Daily training, long runs, some faster paces
Flytefoam Blast+ Eco midsole, woven knit upper, Ahar Lo rubber outsole
THOMAS: As a parent, I know I shouldn’t play favorites. The truth is, I have no favorite child regarding the overall amount of love. However, based on behavior, I may like one of my boys more at any given hour, fully dependent on which one verbally acknowledges that I’m the best dad in the world. It’s hard to be unbiased with some shoes as well.
After all, our team was an early adopter of the Asics Novablast since we first saw it at The Running Event in 2019. It almost feels like our child, even if that adoption paperwork was never fully finalized. Since then, the Novablast has improved with every iteration. Without spoiling too much, the Novablast 4 is the best yet.
The updates are minimal but the ones that are there make this version of the shoe better than the last version. Last year, I ran more miles in the Novablast 3 than any other trainer. I loved the shoe. This version takes it to the next level. The price point, style, and performance of the Novablast are hard to beat. Let’s break down the new tweaks that make the Novablast 4 an improvement over the three.
MEAGHAN: I’ll never forget the first time we saw the Novablast: we were in Austin, TX at The Running Event (TRE) in 2019 and it felt like a real outlier in the Asics lineup. Was this a running shoe? A gym shoe? Asics didn’t seem sold on either, but we knew. This was the running shoe we’d been waiting for. And now here we are, wearing the fourth iteration of what might be our favorite daily trainer from the brand.
The Novablast 4 stays true to its origins, but the small updates feel quite substantial. The mesh upper has been replaced with a softer, woven fabric and additional stretch has been added to the tongue wing construction. The midsole is now designed with Flytefoam Blast+ Eco, which is Asics lightest and most responsive foam (according to the company), made from 20% bio-based materials.
A new outsole formulation (Ahar Lo) is made from a lower density rubber, which means it’s softer, but still durable, and has some real grip. The 8 mm drop remains, but there’s an additional 0.5mm of foam beneath the foot, landing this at 41.5 mm in the heel and 33.5 mm in the forefoot for men and 1 millimeter lower all around for women. Does this so-called “trampoline effect” of a midsole hold true out on the roads? Let’s dive in.
ROBBE: As Thomas and Meaghan said, we’ve pretty much been here since the Novablast was a dwarf star, before it really exploded into the shoe universe. The shoe has always been right outside my “favorite shoe” zone; at times it was too squishy and unstable, at times the upper was lacking, at times it felt bouncy but not propulsive. I get why others have loved this shoe to death, and while I always enjoyed the shoe, it wasn’t my favorite one out there.
Once the Superblast came out, it was game over– that was and still is one of my favorite running shoes of the last couple years. But it also costs $200. The Novablast always had good value for its $140 price point, offering a bit more magic than the shoes below it, while carving out a niche below the trendy super trainers in the $160 price range. It was also a lightweight shoe that could pretty much do anything, from tempo workouts to long runs.
I didn’t think the Novablast 4 would change my mind too much; turns out I was wrong.Shop Asics Novablast - Men Shop Asics Novablast - Women
THOMAS: Asics uses a one-piece woven upper with a softer feel than the previous model. The winged construction tongue is thin and padded. The collar and heel counter is generously puffy. I float between a size 10 and 10.5 in Asics. I went with the size 10, and it fits perfectly. Asics will tell you this upper is more breathable than the Novablast 3, but I didn’t notice much difference.
The FlyteFoam Blast+ Eco midsole is a new formula for this year, which uses 20% bio content in the midsole for sustainability purposes. Asics will tell you it is their lightest, most responsive version yet. It feels protective and energetic. I ran 28 miles in the Novablast 4 before writing the review; my longest distance in the shoe was 12 miles.
Over those miles, I found the shoe to be firm enough to be responsive and soft enough to pamper your feet and legs. Basically, the cushioning hit the sweet spot. There is plenty of cushioning with the over-the-legal-limit stack height.
Consumers complained about the rubber outsole on the Novablast 3. Asics listened, and the Novablast 4 has Ahar Lo rubber on the outsole. This rubber is lower-density and softer while still being durable. I didn’t have an issue with the previous outsole. However, this one is noticeably tackier.
With a price point of $140, the Novablast 4 is a shoe that should have your attention– it can cover most of your running needs. The shoe is light on the foot at 9.5 ounces / 269 grams.
MEAGHAN: Of course I’ll start with aesthetics and say that the sandy/tan/beige/ Kim Kardashian colorway is quite lovely. But the step-in feel of this shoe is equally as nice. The new woven upper is softer than the previous version and overall feels a bit more plush. The stretchy tongue is minimal in design with almost no padding at all, but it provides a nice, soft lock-down.
While there is only a half millimeter of extra foam underfoot, it feels like there’s more. Maybe it’s the new formulation of the midsole or the Ahar Lo outsole, or a combination of the two, but I just get a bouncier, livelier feeling ride in this version. From some easy 4 milers to the longer 10-12 mile runs, I’ve been enjoying just about every jaunt out in this shoe. The weight remains nearly the same for my W7.5, coming in at 7.6 oz.
ROBBE: Out of the box, I wasn’t sure about the design of the shoe. The botanical flair of the midsole lacked the aggressive edge of the Novablast 3 design. It’s since grown on me, and I prefer it. I also prefer the more straightforward color blocking of the upper and midsole as opposed to the gradient found in the Novablast 3. That’s strictly a personal preference, I know plenty of people loved last year’s design.
I love a good knit upper if it’s done right (which it rarely is). I thought the Gel-Nimbus 25 was fantastic in that regard and the woven upper in this shoe provides that same level of luxury and comfort without crossing the line into the max cush category. Absolutely no issues with lockdown or fit (though I did feel the sizing was kind of in between, but not a dealbreaker). It’s just really well done and also has a gusseted tongue for additional support.
On the run, this version feels different than the traditional Novablast. I think it feels more tame. Now, hear me out, because that’s a good thing– for me anyway. I always felt the Novablast was a little too squirrely in terms of stability and a bit rough around the edges when it came to other parts of the shoe. Despite being tamed a bit, the midsole in the Novablast 4 still has some giddy-up. It’s not firm, but offers a good bounce, with a touch of responsiveness and enough ground feel to make it neither harsh nor a max comfort shoe (despite its 41.5 mm stack height). The toe-off is much better as well.
The upper in the Novablast 3 seemed like more of an afterthought, meant to keep the weight down but that’s about it. Same with the outsole on that shoe, the basic Ahar rubber was pretty poor in wet conditions and generally just not good. The magic was purely in the midsole.
The Novablast 4 is refined all around, the sharp edges rounded down (literally, in the case of the geometric midsole design). The end result is a more cohesive package.
Instead of focusing on just the “More stack height! More bounce!” call to arms that seems to be the cause célèbre these days, it feels like Asics took the time to improve all the parts about the shoe. In doing so, everything comes together to make a more durable trainer with a better and more comfortable lockdown, while still keeping it in the relatively lightweight and multipurpose trainer category.
While I wore it for a couple daily runs in the 4-6 mile range, I also took it on my final ten-mile run for New York City Marathon training. I felt it was a great companion and really enjoyed the ride throughout the 90 minutes of my run. The midsole provides the perfect balance of cushion and responsiveness, without feeling clunky or like I was sinking into the midsole. Picking up the pace was surprisingly easy as well; I went hard for my last mile and ended up getting a shocking Strava CR on a one-mile loop around a neighborhood lake (it’s a relatively new development, so take that CR with a grain of salt).
The improved Ahar Lo outsole makes a big difference too; I felt like it was great for cornering and picking up the pace. On dry surfaces, anyway.
I may be in the minority here, but I really loved the Gel-Nimbus 24. I thought the Nimbus 25 was too soft and much preferred the rock-solid daily training vibes of the previous version. I feel like the Novablast 4 is an improved version of that shoe– solid ride, more cushion in the forefoot and throughout, and similar upper in a shoe that can log tons of miles. So yeah, I love this shoe and I think the $140 price point is more than fair.Shop Asics Novablast - Men Shop Asics Novablast - Women
THOMAS: Other than the midsole tooling and some upper flourishes, some Asics designs look too similar. When we first saw the Novablast, it stood out from the rest of the Asics lineup. Maybe it is the rest of the line getting better looking, but I’d still like to see the Novablast and Superblast look more radical than the rest of the legends. The tongue on the Novablast 4 works fine, but the tongue on the Nimbus 25 is superior. I’d love to see it on the Novablast, even though that contradicts my first comment.
MEAGHAN: I think Thomas nailed the negatives of this one. But most importantly– that Nimbus 25 tongue. Asics, do us all a favor and put that Nimbus 25 tongue in all the models. All of ‘em.
ROBBE: Like Thomas mentioned, Asics says this upper is more breathable than the last version. Asics is wrong. It’s a woven upper– it’s warm. If you’ve worn the Gel-Nimbus 25, you know what I’m talking about.
At first, on dry surfaces, I thought the rubber outsole was much improved. It felt tacky and sticky and gripped the street and sidewalk. But when I ran in the rain with the shoe, it wasn’t as secure as I had hoped. I definitely had some slippage on pebble paving (fair enough, not the best surface), but I also didn’t feel super secure on city streets. I wasn’t slipping and sliding, but I felt like I just couldn’t get any grip. It’s better than the Novablast 3, but it’s not the best.
I differ from Meg don’t think it’s as bouncy as previous versions– at least on step in. I’m not sure if that’s because of the Eco part of the midsole or if the durometer is just tuned differently. But it doesn’t have that wow-bounce feel that the Novablast 3 had (or definitely the 2). Now, it’s nowhere in the realm of Nike Nature’s garbage-disguised-as-performance-midsoles, which are just junk foam repurposed in a junk shoe, creating even more junk for a landfill. The Blast+ Eco is actually quite nice as a midsole and as I noted above, I prefer it over the Novablast 3. However, some people won’t like the step back in bounce or fun factor, so that’s why I noted it. But hey, Meg disagrees so maybe I’m just crazy.
Overall, it’s just a more tamed-down version of the Novablast of old. Some people are going to not like that, I get it. I don’t know, maybe my love for this shoe is just a byproduct of having too many super shoes and too many bouncy foams. I remember a time when I wanted to drink Double IPA’s and barrel-aged stouts; now all I want in life is just a cold Shiner Ruby Redbird on a hot day. Maybe that’s where we are in life.
Or, maybe I’m so used to running in bouncy shoes that this is in fact still a bouncy shoe to everyone else in the world and it’s just my subjective frame of reference that makes this more of a reliable daily trainer. So maybe just don’t trust anything I say.Shop Asics Novablast - Men Shop Asics Novablast - Women
THOMAS: This shoe ticks all my boxes. But some boxes are hard to describe. For instance, the shoe has a fun factor. How do I measure that? I guess that the “fun” comes from the shoe being light on the feet, resilient, good-looking, and it doesn’t interfere with the pure joy of running.
The Superblast is overall my favorite Asics shoe, but the Novablast is coming in $60 less; that’s a kid on good behavior. Ideally, throwing budgets out the window, I would use the Novablast 4 for all my daily miles, the Superblast for long runs and tempo runs, and the Metaspeed Sky 3 for race day. For those on a budget, I’d recommend Novablast 4 all day. It can handle all your running needs. Don’t tell the other shoes, but you might be my favorite simple daily trainer.
MEAGHAN: The Asics Novablast 4 did not disappoint. This is a great daily trainer at a solid $140 price point. This is also one of those shoes that I could recommend to just about anyone. It’s simple but effective, and it will remain in my rotation for a while.
ROBBE: I see this as a shoe that I’ll be coming back to quite often. Again, it feels like a better version of the Gel-Nimbus 24, a shoe that I recently took off the shelf and found that I still enjoy quite a bit. The ride is a bit tamed down in comparison to past versions of the Novablast, but it still feels comfortable without the same soft and sinking feeling of the Gel-Nimbus 25. Overall, the shoe comes with better stability, a better upper, and overall more cohesive package.
Thomas says this one is the best yet. I agree, mostly. I do think it’s my favorite Novablast yet, but I also think it’s a bit of a different shoe than past versions of the Novablast. Some people will certainly be disappointed in that. But this shoe is exactly what you look for in a great daily trainer, and is definitely one of those shoes I’d recommend to anyone, sight unseen (which I wouldn’t do for the Novablast 3).
For those looking for the best shoe in the Asics lineup that isn’t the Superblast, the Novablast 4 is ready to keep you company for all your running miles.
You can pick up the Asics Novablast 4 for $140 at the New York City Marathon expo from 11/2-11/4 (includes a free pair of Bandit Running socks), or on December 1 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.Shop Asics Novablast - Men Shop Asics Novablast - Women
As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.More from Thomas
Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.More from Meaghan
Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.More from Robbe